GA introduces horse racing legislation

Press Release

ATLANTA — State Representative Harry Geisinger (R-Roswell) announces today his filing of House Bill 1168, which would establish the Georgia Racing Commission and provide a system of regulations for pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing in the state of Georgia.

"Horse racing could create thousands of jobs, giving our economy the boost it so badly needs," said Representative Harry Geisinger (R-Roswell), Chairman of the House Equine Industry Study Committee.  "We must ensure that the business is conducted in a safe, just manner.  House Bill 1168 will ensure Georgia has one of the most benevolent horse racing systems in the country."

HB 1168 is the acting legislation to House Resolution 1177, which was introduced last month.  HR 1177 is a constitutional amendment that would allow Georgia voters to decide if they would like to allow horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering in their local municipality.  Once the amendment is passed, HB 1168 would then vest all control of horse racing with pari-mutuel wagering to the Georgia Horse Racing Commission.  This Commission, consisting of nine appointed members, would ensure that all pari-mutuel wagering is conducted in accordance with Georgia law at licensed horse racetrack and satellite facilities.

Currently, horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering are legal in 38 states.  Combined, both contribute a total economic impact of $39 billion to the United States annually.  Major horse racing states like Kentucky, Maryland, New York and Florida contain interconnected interstates that all pass through the state of Georgia.  This logistical situation puts Georgia in a unique position to become the 39th state to expand its equine industry.  Since horse racing is not legal in Mississippi, Tennessee, or South Carolina, there would be limited regional competition to Georgia's horse racing industry.  Also, with correctly timed horse meets and races, Georgia could attract the thousands of horses that already pass through the state while traveling from north to south.

During the November 18, 2009 meeting of the House Equine Industry Study Committee, numerous experts testified to the economic benefits that Georgia would experience if horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering were legal.

"The racetrack itself is the very tip of the iceberg as far as economic development is concerned," said Dr. Stephen Fisch.

Dr. Fisch, President of the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association, explained that each horse on a race track creates seven jobs.  The average horse meet will have at least 800-1,000 horses, thus creating approximately 7,000 jobs per meet.  Some of these jobs necessary for each horse include trainers, grooms, jockeys, drivers and riders, and veterinarians.  Other employment expansion would also include racetrack employees and support for industries such as hotels and restaurants.

HB 1168 requires that a portion of funds generated by horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering in Georgia support to the following organizations: the State of Georgia, the County or Municipality in which the Racetrack or Satellite facility is located, the Lottery for Education, the College of Agricultural and Environmental Science at the University of Georgia, the Horse Rescue groups, and the Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission for Equine.  Further, a Racing Benevolence Fund would be disbursed for gambling addiction, substance abuse counseling and other related programs.